Matt Garza kept his glove over his mouth for nearly the entire walk from the mound to the dugout. You didnt have to read his lips to guess what he was thinking on Wednesday night at Wrigley Field.
In Garzas mind, he should pitch nine innings every time out. But a tie game was out of his hands now, and the Philadelphia Phillies would hammer away at the Cubs bullpen.
There is the image that Garza and the television cameras have cultivated. It could be talking to himself, or hanging over the dugout rail and yelling out onto the field. There are the sunglasses, the headphones and the hooded sweatshirt pulled over his head.
But for someone who seems ideally suited for a win-now contender, Garza sees the big picture. In his own colorful way, Garza speaks the same language as Cubs president Theo Epstein, preaching patience and player development.
Just listen to Garza after a 9-2 loss to the Phillies, when hes asked what a mostly young, inexperienced bullpen might learn after giving up seven runs in 2.1 innings.
Theres no easier way to pop up than after somebody kicks you in the teeth, Garza said. Youre pissed off and youre going to get back up and make sure it doesnt happen again. Thats the kind of guys we got, guys that arent going to quit, arent going to hide (or) put their tail between their legs and run away.
Theyre going to come back here tomorrow and work their butts off and make sure that crap doesnt happen again.
Thats what we need here. Every time Skip comes and takes the ball from me, I have no second thoughts, no regrets, no doubts. I trust these guys every time out. I hate when he grabs the ball from me, but at least I can trust the guys Im handing the ball to.
As much as Garza was being a good teammate, he knew he ran his pitch count high (107) into the seventh inning, and that manager Dale Sveum plays matchups.
With two outs, the Cubs had seen enough of Juan Pierre, who had bunted twice and the throws to first base seemed to have gotten into Garzas head.
Garza laughed it all off one was officially an error, the other was not saying that he slipped, he heard catcher Geovany Soto yelling Dont throw! and Pierre just got out of the box too fast.
Garzas review of flicking his wrist and throwing the ball into the ground: That was freaking hilarious.
Sveum was asked if this had become a mental thing: Im not a psychologist.
Garza who gave up two runs in 6.2 innings hasnt gone crazy while getting minimal run support and missing out on wins.
Shawn Camp who might be the reliever trusted most by Sveum allowed Carlos Ruiz to hit the go-ahead homer in the eighth inning. Michael Bowden who tried to get Scott Maine out of a jam gave up a grand slam to Hector Luna in the ninth.
(Bowden it's) his first time in the NL, so hes not familiar with any of the hitters, Garza said. Especially when its a guy that I didnt even know they had. I feel Im one of the most prepared guys and I had no clue they had Hector Luna on their roster. So its one of those things like Whoa. Just step back and take the positive things out of today and get back at it tomorrow and try to even this thing out.
The Cubs (15-22) are alone in last place in the National League Central, but that doesnt mean Garza wont fit into their plans.
Garza, 28, came up through the widely-respected player-development system built by the Minnesota Twins. He went to the 2008 World Series with the Tampa Bay Rays. He watched the Cubs crash last season and doesnt want to see it happen again.
I might be old in baseball time, but Im still young, Garza said. Ive just been (through) a lot. Ive seen a lot. Ive been to places where the organization was (near) the top. Players were first class. Thats just kind of what you emulate winners.
Ive been around the (Johan) Santanas. Ive been around (David) Price (and) some great arms. Ive been around some great veterans Torii Hunter, Rondell White, Cliff Floyd, Eric Hinske, Troy Percival.
Ive seen both ends of the spectrum, and I took what I wanted from them and just kind of wrote it off on these guys and keep them in mind (to) help them grow.
So for all the jittery energy and fast talking, there is another side to Garza. As Epstein once said, theres a method to the madness.